BY BILL ST. JOHN
— Pick up each ear of corn you're hankering after; it should feel hefty. Run your hand and fingers down its length, feeling for any cavities or bulges, either one a sign of damage or spoilage.
— There's no need to peel back any of the husk, even near the tip; you'll show you're an amateur. Husks should feel moist, hug the ear, and be dark green (unless someone's already peeled away the outer husk and you don't want to buy those anyway). Silks should be tan or golden; any slimy dark brown or black silks are bad.
— Final fret check: Feel with your fingertips around the tip end. The kernels should be plump and firm all the way to the tippy top.
— Fresh corn is always best the day that you pick (or buy) it. You may store it for a couple of days (up to three) in the coldest portion of the refrigerator, still wrapped in its husks, in plastic bags. A paper towel wrapped around every third ear is a good way to both wick away moisture and help circulate air.
To grill: Pull back husks just enough to remove silk, then push back husks. Soak the ears in cool water for 20 minutes, then place on a hot grill. Cover, grill for 20 minutes, turning the ears every 5 minutes or so.
To microwave: A surprisingly effective way to cook corn on the cob. Let the corn ears out of the refrigerator for a few minutes so that they can shake off most of their cold. Leave the husks and silks intact, removing any lengths of the stem that would interfere with any ear making its dosey-doe on the microwave turntable. Zap on high for 3-4 minutes an ear, depending on thickness (up to 3 ears at a time, laid side by side). When done, cut off an inch from the stem end. With a kitchen towel or several sheets of paper toweling, grip the ear at the tapered end and pull. Both the husks and silks slide right off.
To boil: Husk ears and remove silks. Trim stems if you see fit. In vigorously boiling, salted water (no milk or sugar necessary), boil for 2-3 minutes for crisp kernels, up to 6 minutes for softer kernels.
To steam: Prepare as for boiled corn; steaming, covered, takes about 10 minutes.
To roast: Preheat oven to 450 degrees; roast ears for 20 minutes with both husks and silks intact. If ears are husked, with silks removed, wrap in aluminum foil and roast for the same amount of time.